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Google Chromecast Streaming Device Review

by David Miklos Hazi
Google Chromecast
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2020 Google Chromecast Review

The Google Chromecast (3rd generation) is a streaming player that was released in October 2018 (R). This streaming device is a dongle that plugs into the back of your television using the HDMI port. The 3rd generation is a minor upgrade from the previous version. This upgraded increases hardware speed roughly 15 percent. The Chromecast is Google’s non-4K streaming device.

This dongle receives mixed reviews amongst cord-cutters. One reason is there is no remote; you have to “cast” from a device. The second reason is that Chromecast does not support Amazon Prime Video. The dongle is primarily suited for casual cord-cutters who want to cast streaming video from their smartphone/tablet to their television.

Chromecast Front

Chromecast Hardware

Google’s devices are probably some of the most basic and generally disappointing of all the different streaming players on the market. Since its release in 2013, very little has been done to upgrade features or functionality. The device is unlike Roku or Amazon Fire TV because it does not have an interface or even a remote, you must cast from a separate device.

The Chromecast dongle plugs into your TV’s HDMI port and needs to be connected to a USB power supply. The wall charger is included but you may also plug into your TV’s USB port; however, this will slow down the device considerably.

You must use a separate device and your TV to stream tv shows, movies, and games. Chromecast works with iPhone®, iPad®, Android phone and tablet, Mac® and Windows® laptop and Chromebook.

The newest generation is capable of playing 1080p at 60 frames per second, which is an upgrade from the second generation which could only do this at 720p.

Another upgrade is the wireless antenna. The Chromecast uses the 802.11 b/g/n/ac bands which gives users both 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz frequencies.

Chromecast Back

Google Chromecast Performance

The performance of the Chromecast is quickly becoming outdated. While the third generation improves the 1080p experience by upgrading from 30 frames per second to 60 frames per second it still lacks 4K or HDR support which can be found on similarly priced players such as the Roku Premiere.

Google states that the speed of the dongle has been increased by 15% but this has largely been disputed by many users who claim the increased performance is only relative to start-up and load times. Since the dongle is powered using a smart device such as a smartphone or tablet navigation speeds are unaffected.

The upgraded Wi-Fi does boost performance and should be a welcome addition for Chromecast fans. The Chromecast relies heavily on the wireless connections more than other devices because you are casting from a separate device.

Chromecast Side

How To Setup Chromecast?

Getting set up with Google Chromecast is very easy. Simply plug in the device, connect the HDMI cable to your TV, and open the Google Home app in a compatible smart device such as a smartphone, tablet, or computer using the Chrome browser. If you already use Google Home products it will recognize the device. If you have not used the Google Home app you will be prompted to enter your Wi-Fi information.

When you pull up what you want to stream on your device, you simply hit the cast button and it relays the stream through the player to your TV. One of the main advantages of this is that it will not drain the battery of your device as quickly vs streaming on the device itself.

Chromecast can be connected to any Google Home products. This gives users the ability to use voice commands to play videos and music. Another cool Chromecast feature is that you can cast the Chrome browser basically allowing you to turn your TV into a monitor. This also allows you to turn your TV into a picture frame to display photos and screensavers.

This streaming player supports dual-band 802.11ac for faster and more reliable WiFi and streams in 1080p. The second generation is slightly faster than the original, which from our experience was pretty slow compared to competitors.

Since there is no remote you will control all media selection and playback control from your casting device. If you have a device that has Google Assistant then you can use your voice to control these settings. Say “Hello Google, watch Game of Thrones on Chromecast,” and it will begin playing. Voice control is also only available with select streaming applications.

Chromecast Channels and Applications

Chromecast gives you access to more than 200,000 TV shows and movies and 30 million songs. There is a variety of cast enabled apps, streaming services, and you can even cast with the Chrome browser. Notably missing is Amazon Prime Video. Cord-cutters get access to just about every single application in the Google Play store.

Music and audio apps are well represented, with Spotify, Google Play Music, Soundcloud, Deezer, Tidal, BBC iPlayer Radio, TuneIn and Google Podcasts among the services currently listed on Google’s Chromecast apps page.

Steaming video applications are also well represented, with Netflix, Sling TV, HBO GO and HBO Now, YouTube and YouTube TV, PlayStation Vue, and many more. To see if Chromecast supports your favorite applications visit their apps page. https://store.google.com/us/product/chromecast_apps?hl=en-US

Google Chromecast Technical Specs

 
Google Chromecast
Dimension2.04 in L and 2.04 in H
ResolutionUp to 1080p 60fps
Wireless802.11ac (2.4GHz/5GHz)
Power5V, 1A power supply
PortsHDMI, Micro-USB
Supported Operating SystemsAndroid 4.2 and higher; iOS 9.1 and higher; Mac® OS X® 10.9 and higher; Windows 7 and higher

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Compare Chromecast To Other Streaming Devices

Wondering how this streaming media player stacks up vs other devices? Compare our Google Chromecast review to other popular streaming TV devices reviews. We have reviewed the most popular devices on the market including brands such as Amazon, Apple, Roku, and more. Check out our full list of device reviews here:

  • AirTV – Dual network tuner that transmits OTA signals to a device connected television. Rating: 7.0; Price: Discontinued.
  • AirTV Player – Unique device that combines streaming television with over-the-air antenna local channels in one platform. Rating: 6.4; Price: Discontinued.
  • Amazon Fire TV Cube – Central hub for connecting and controlling all of your home theatre equipment including TV, cable box, and even audio equipment by using the Amazon Alexa voice control technology. Rating: 8.6; Price: $119.99.
  • Amazon Fire TV Stick – Amazon’s budget streamer for cord-cutters looking to for 1080p resolution. Rating: 8.4; Price: $39.99.
  • Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K – Amazon’s 4K streaming stick. Great value. Rating: 9.0; Price: $49.00.
  • Apple TV – Original set-top box by Apple. Rating: 8.4; Price: $149.99.
  • Apple TV 4K – One of the most powerful set-top boxes on the market. Apple’s 4K version. Rating: 9.2; Price: 32G $179.99 and 64G $199.99.
  • Google Chromecast Dongle that allows users to cast from a separate device. Rating: 6.4; Price: $35.00.
  • Google Chromecast Ultra – Google’s 4K version of the dongle. Powerful but awkward. Rating: 7.4; Price: $69.00.
  • Roku Express – Ultra budget 1080p set-top box. Rating: 7.6; Price: $29.99.
  • Roku Express+ Tiny set-top box for older televisions. Rating: 7.8; Price: $35.00.
  • Roku Premiere – Inexpensive 4K and HDR10 streaming box. Rating: 8.6; Price: $39.99.
  • Roku Premiere+ Upgraded version of the Premiere. Rating: 8.6; Price: $49.99.
  • Roku Ultra Top-of-line 4K and HDR set-top box. Rating: 9.6; Price: $99.99.
  • Roku Streaming Stick Non-4K streaming stick for budget cord-cutters. Rating: 8.6; Price: $49.99.
  • Roku Streaming Stick+ Very powerful 4K streaming stick for power cord-cutters. Rating: 9.6; Price: $49.99.

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